Philippines News Agency
TACLOBAN CITY — Same clans will control the six provincial governments of impoverished Eastern Visayas region in the next three years as incumbent officials succeeded in holding their clout in local governance based on counting results.
Biliran Governor Gerardo J. Espina, Jr. got another fresh term after running unopposed in this year’s elections. The Espinas have been in control of the small province since its creation in 1992.
In Leyte, Governor Leopoldo Dominico, a member of the influential clan, defeated two other candidates, whose names don’t ring a bell among voters in the province.
The governor, whose family has been reigning the province since 1992, earned 448,957 votes, a wide lead over Baldomero Falcone’s 13,209 votes and Philip Nielo’s 13,036 votes.
In Northern Samar’s gubernatorial post, incumbent Jose Ong earned 176,991 votes, defeating Monsignor Walter Cerbito, who got 69,582 votes.
In the hotly contested gubernatorial race in Samar, Governor Sharee Ann T. Tan succeeded her re-election bid after gaining 194,657 votes over closest rival Emil Zosa’s 133,263 votes. The Tans have been in Samar politics since 1998.
In Eastern Samar, Governor Conrado Nicart Jr. will serve his last term as chief executive of the province after obtaining 133,576 votes, defeating former Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Marcelino Libanan by a margin of 53,947 votes.
In Southern Leyte, Rep. Damian Mercado (lone district) is making a comeback in the gubernatorial post. He had 118,333 votes, way ahead of his opponent Shefferd Lino Tan, who got 77,855 votes.
Damian decided to switch post with brother, Governor Roger late last year after learning that Tan would substitute an unknown candidate in the gubernatorial race.
For decades, the region’s provincial governments have been controlled by a few families that promise to spur economic growth every election.
Citing the Philippine Statistics Authority’s 2015 first semester data, Eastern Visayas’ 47.3 percent population remained poor, which is worse than 43.8 percent in 2009 and 45.4 percent in 2012. The region is the second poorest area in the country next to Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.